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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-64
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-64
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 15 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 15 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Evaluation of Arctic warming in mid-Pliocene climate simulations

Wesley de Nooijer1, Qiong Zhang1, Qiang Li1, Qiang Zhang1, Xiangyu Li2,3, Zhongshi Zhang4,3,2, Chuncheng Guo3, Kerim H. Nisancioglu3, Alan M. Haywood5, Julia C. Tindall5, Stephen J. Hunter5, Harry J. Dowsett6, Christian Stepanek7, Gerrit Lohmann7, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner8, Ran Feng9, Linda E. Sohl10, Ning Tan11,12, Camille Contoux12, Gilles Ramstein12, Michiel L. J. Baatsen13, Anna S. von der Heydt13,14, Deepak Chandan15, W. Richard Peltier15, Ayako Abe-Ouchi16, Wing-Le Chan16, Youichi Kamae17, and Chris M. Brierley18 Wesley de Nooijer et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3NORCE Norwegian Research Centre,Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 4Department of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
  • 5School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  • 6Florence Bascom Geoscience Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA 20192, USA
  • 7Alfred Wegener Institute - Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 8Palaeo and Polar Climate Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 9Department of Geosciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Connecticut, Connecticut, USA
  • 10CCSR/GISS, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 11Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 12Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Univisite Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 13Centre for Complex Systems Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 14Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht (IMAU), Department of Physics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 15Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 16Centre for Earth Surface System Dynamics (CESD), Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute (AORI), University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • 17Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 18Department of Geography, University College London, London, UK

Abstract. Palaeoclimate simulations improve our understanding of the climate, inform us about the performance of climate models in a different climate scenario, and help to identify robust features of the climate system. Here, we analyse Arctic warming in an ensemble of 16 simulations of the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP), derived from the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project Phase 2 (PlioMIP2).

The PlioMIP2 ensemble simulates Arctic (60–90° N) annual mean surface air temperature (SAT) increases of 3.7 to 11.6 °C compared to the pre-industrial, with a multi-model mean (MMM) increase of 7.2 °C. The Arctic warming amplification ratio relative to global SAT anomalies in the ensemble ranges from 1.8 to 3.1 (MMM is 2.3). Sea ice extent anomalies range from −3.0 to −10.4 × 06 km2 with a MMM anomaly of −5.6 × 106 km2, which constitutes a decrease of 53 % compared to the pre-industrial. The majority (11 out of 16) models simulate summer sea ice-free conditions (≤ 1 × 06 km2) in their mPWP simulation. The ensemble tends to underestimate SAT in the Arctic when compared to available reconstructions. The simulations with the highest Arctic SAT anomalies tend to match the proxy dataset in its current form better. The ensemble shows some agreement with reconstructions of sea ice, particularly with regards to seasonal sea ice. Large uncertainties limit the confidence that can be placed in the findings and the compatibility of the different proxy datasets. We show that, while reducing uncertainties in the reconstructions could decrease the SAT data-model discord substantially, further improvements are likely to be found in enhanced boundary conditions or model physics. Lastly, we compare the Arctic warming in the mPWP to projections of future Arctic warming and find that the PlioMIP2 ensemble simulates greater Arctic amplification, an increase instead of a decrease in AMOC strength compared to pre-industrial, and a lesser strengthening of northern modes of variability than CMIP5 future climate simulations. The results highlight the importance of slow feedbacks in equilibrium climate simulations, and that caution must be taken when using simulations of the mPWP as an analogue for future climate change.

Wesley de Nooijer et al.

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Short summary
The simulations for the past climate can inform us about the performance of climate models in different climate scenarios. Here, we analyse Arctic warming in an ensemble of 16 simulations of the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP), when the CO2 level is comparable to today. The results highlight the importance of slow feedbacks in the model simulations and imply that we must be careful when using simulations of the mPWP as an analogue for future climate change.
The simulations for the past climate can inform us about the performance of climate models in...
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